Early last year, state lawmakers in South Carolina introduced bill H. 3526, which would require teachers to lead a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day. During this moment of silence teachers would be allowed to conduct a prayer, but students would also have the choice to opt out and remove themselves from the classroom.
Surprisingly, most of the bill’s backers are Democrats, but opponents of the bill want to know what happened with the separation of church and state.
The bill was introduced on Feb. 7 by Reps. Wendell Gilliard, Robert Williams, Joseph Jefferson, Carl Anderson, Liston Barfield, Bill Clyburn, Heather Ammons Crawford, Lonnie Hosey, Robert Ridgeway III, and Don Wells.
The Supreme Court says that teacher-led prayer violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, but the bills backers are willing to compromise.
“The compromise would be to have the students to pray to whomever they want to. If they want to do away with teachers conducting the prayer that would be fine with us. The essential part of the bill, the important part, is putting prayer back in school,” Gilliard said.
He added the teachers would only introduce the moment of silence, rather than lead the students in a religious prayer.
“There would be no noise, no disruption, no anything. But the teacher would conduct it to let the students know we would have one minute for a moment of silence of prayer. That person can pray to whomever they please,” Gilliard said.
H. 3526 is currently stuck in the House Committee on Judiciary.
While attending a public elementary school, I remember one teacher who always started her class off with a moment of silence. She never told us what we had to do, or should do during those moments. Some students merely put their head down, others took stared off into their own thoughts. But my teacher clearly took her time to clasp her hands and silently prayed. Maybe it was a way for her to clear her head during each class period, but no one seemed to mind.